Slovenia to join eurozone on 1 January

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Slovenia to join eurozone on 1 January

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Slovenia is about to become the first ex-communist country to join the eurozone on 1 January. Ljubljana sees the move as a step forward for its small country of two million which takes over the EU’s rotating presidency in 2008.

But five years after the launch of the single currency, enthusiasm has considerably waned. Many in the 12-member eurozone feel the switch was an excuse for raising prices.

Just over 300 million Europeans gave up their national currencies in exchange for the euro on 1 January 2002. Many regret the move saying it has only driven up the cost of living.

In France, more than half the population says the euro is “bad” for France.

“My problem is the price of a baguette, paying more than a euro a day is too much,” said one man.

“I really feel prices have gone up across the board,” said a woman.

But economists says it has brought monetary stability with low interest rates which means people can borrow money at lower cost than before.

The government has launched a major awareness campaign saying it has taken appropriate measures to prevent retailers from increasing prices.

Slovenia, which met strict budget deficit criteria in order to join the eurozone, hopes the single currency will enable reforms to boost privatisation and foreign investment.